How to set up and run a successful Military Insight Day: Virgin Money

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Virgin Money hosted their first Financial Services Insight Day for Service Leavers last year with great success. SaluteMyJob chats to Nick Calder, a former Lieutenant Colonel in the Army, now a Programme Manager at Virgin Money, on how to set up and run a successful Insight Day - and how ex-military personnel add value to an organisation.

Vets@Virgin are a group of ex-forces colleagues who were behind setting up the Virgin Money Insight Day to support ex-Service men and women, back in May last year. Nick said the group of 12 wanted to help others through the transition journey and prepare them for commercial employment. Nick explained: “We wanted to try and help people get over the cultural hurdle that exists between a military and civilian workplace. One of the best ways to do that is make sure that individuals get the right fit in terms of business sector and role. It’s not just about getting a job when you leave but getting the right job that you’ll be happy in. So we thought, we’re a Retail Bank, so we could offer an Insight Day that would let people know what sort of roles are out there in Financial Services that fit the military skill set. We didn’t want it to be just a Virgin Money event so we had number of other Financial Service businesses in the North East come along on the day too.”

The event was the first of its kind for retired and Serving members of the Armed Forces in the North East. From across the three services 73 people attended. The day included a number of presentations; four focused on Financial Service business areas suitable for retiring military personnel. There were also three presentations on how to get a job, with advice on recruitment agencies, CV writing and networking, including a presentation from Managing Director of SaluteMyJob, Andrew Jackson. A Q&A session followed the presentations, with the day ending in networking drinks with representatives from across Virgin Money as well as Newcastle Building Society, Santander and Deloitte.

Due to the positive feedback on the day, Vets@Virgin will host a Virgin Money Careers Access Day on the 8th June for Service Leavers. This will include presentations focusing on lessons learnt in making the transition from military to civilian life and what not to write in your CV. The event will also include presentations from Jo Darby from ‘Voice in the Room’ about how to sell yourself on interview as well as Dennis Flynn on looking after your wellbeing and coping with change. Businesses in the North East who are actively recruiting military talent will also be in attendance. Click here to find out more.

For the up-and-coming event, Virgin Money has advertised the Careers Access Day through the CTP, The Officers’ Association, sent 200 flyers to Catterick and Nick has an interview with Pathfinder Magazine to promote the event. There are also plans to do a Webinar with the Officer’s Association on the evening of 16th May.

I think Service Leavers have a great attitude. They are mega-keen to learn, are great team players and are organised and disciplined.
— Nick Calder

Nick said the motivation behind giving Service Leavers the opportunity to attend Insight Days was that ‘military personnel have a great deal to offer the commercial world and that it was important to make sure that they have as much information as possible to make their move a success -  right from the start’.

What value do you think Service leavers add to a business?

“I think Service Leavers have a great attitude. They are mega-keen to learn, are great team players and are organised and disciplined. When you ask a military man to do something he’ll get on and do it. They also have a different perspective which can be really useful to business,” said Nick. “They are also reliable and trustworthy and come with a set of values and standards as default, which are drilled into them at the early stages of their career. Important values such as loyalty, integrity, respect for others and selflessness, all of these are welcomed by employers and business.”  

Nick's top tips for businesses looking to host their own Military Insight Days

  1. Set up a group to organise these events: Try and have a core of ex-Service personnel in the group who are up for making a difference - we have a group at Virgin Money called Vets@Virgin. When you’re ready, expand that group to include others, such as colleagues from the wider business and military spouses. This will provide the network to make your ideas a reality and help share the work required to set up the event.

  2. Get business buy-in: Have support and backing from the leaders within the business -  for example the HR Director will be keen to support your events from a D&I perspective. Working with the business to sign the Armed Forces Covenant is a sure way to get the backing you need and make hosting an event that much easier.

  3. Link in with local Military units and Charities: Firstly make contact with the Officer’s Association (OA) and the Career Transition Partnership (CTP). They can provide you with the details of the contacts in your local units, which in our case is 4 Brigade in Catterick. These individuals will be key in marketing and getting people to attend your event. It’s a good idea to link into your local RFEA and British Legion representatives too.

  4. Be organised: Understand what it is you want to do for the day. Use those individuals that have most recently retired from the military as sounding boards on what best to include. The OA and CTP also have a number of contacts with local businesses and charities that can help with getting presentations for your event too. Get feedback from those that attend and try to think of ways to make your event more memorable and different.

  5. Have a range of people from across the business attend: Attendees will be keen to hear the transition stories from the ex-military in your business. So in our case we had our VETS@Virgin group out in force. It’s also important to make sure that you have a good showing from business colleagues and management. Not only will they enjoy the event, but they will also be able to give service leavers a different career path perspective and advice on what roles would be suitable.


Want to find out more about employing veterans? Download the full Capitalising on military talent: Everything you need to know about employing veterans here.